Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Some Sulfuric Morning



I woke up this morning again at 3 am to the smell of sulfur, unsure whether it was coming from me, the standing water in the toilet bowl, the bedsheets or the chlorine pool (fermé) outside. Once again I'd slept with the balcony door open for the cool fresh air, but with it I knew I'd get a variety of sights, smells, and sounds -- including, this morning, a bell tower ringing every quarter hour. It wasn't the sort that calls Muslims to prayer, but purely meant, I think, to tell time, telling me every 15 minutes that I was still awake.

The sky was dark, and even the city's hotels' lit signs had turned off overnight, leaving a single lunar crescent to slice open the sky as though it had leaped right off the Tunisian national flag to do so.

I think this was the first sunrise I'd seen since I left California this summer, my travel plans having been put very much on hold either because of work, or because of lack of work (and the inevitable resulting lack of money). I was happy to step barefoot out onto the marble-floored terrace, clad too scantily for public in this country but pretending to the entire expanse of the back of the hotel was my own private garden.  The pigeons that flock to the stagnant poll water were awake too, chattering about but out of sight. As the sun rose, drowning out the crescent moon, I could see the boats in the distant bay, though the outside did not smell like the sea, nor sulfur, nor moped exhaust nor baking bread. The morning was just new, and mine in my solitude.

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